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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Blessing

Something happened last year, and I'm overwhelmed.

Sorry to inform so late, but just prefer to give some space to myself and my wife to prepare everything for the perfect moment. This is one of the reason why I'm so busy this year, and it's truly a blessing, we are so happy.

Knew that few of my friends also have the good news, congrats as well and I will try to share on what to prepare and budget to estimate shortly. Can't wait to see him, yes, it's a him =)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Compression Shorts for Running

I've been told on the benefits of a real compression shorts for sports and since I'm serious into running, I've been eyeing on it. The price tag is holding me back though, a normal compression shorts for a good brand will cost easily over a hundred ringgit, that's expensive.

Of the benefits, here I list out some for reference.

1. keep muscles warm to prevent muscle strain and fatigue
2. ventilated fabrics are designed to wick sweat away to prevent chaffing and rashes
3. well compressed fittings that help in athelete performance
4. all round tightness apparel that help to reduce friction
5. it also help in keeping male genital in place during sports and help to prevent exposure of female ahtleletes

All the benefits are very good in a marathon run and I need everything I can lay my hands on. After a good search, I finally decided on Adidas apparel. Here is what I get.

Adidas Response Running Short Tights

FORMOTION™ Ergonomic cut for optimized linear running motion
CLIMACOOL® provides heat and moisture management through ventilation
Mesh inserts for improved ventilation
miCoach compatible
Reflective detail
zipper pocket(s) 100% Polyester

I tried out a few and found that Adidas gives me the best support and style. I got my pair from Studio R again and it's priced at RM120.00. I tried it out on my Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2011 for 10km leisure run, and I love every bit of it!

It keeps my lower body part warm and energetic. The compression feeling is giving a good support to my thigh muscle and I'm feeling all good. It's very well ventilated as well, it dry almost immediately and I don't feel the weight. There is this small zip pocket that's very useful, I kept my iPhone there and it stays, does not move around, all good fit without any movement. It's one of my essential gear towards my goal of full marathon end of this year. More things I need, keep it up together with me.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Honda Civic 1.8S-L

After a long viewing of various cars ranging from RM70k to RM130k, finally I decided on Honda Civic 1.8S-L for my wife. I'm avid Honda supporter earlier becase my dad own at least 3 generations of Honda Accord when I'm still a kid. However that changed once I get a taste of Alfa Romeo in its raw power and handling. Anyhow, Honda still hold a very special place in my heart.

The Honda emblem is only getting bigger and bigger, I'm loving it.

This Honda Civic is the 8th Generation and facelifted version. If you track Honda's development recently, you will notice they revise the generation almost every 4 years and facelift it every 2 years within its lifespan. My new Honda Civic 1.8S-L is codenamed FD1. 1st generation is launched since 1973. The first 8th generation is launched in 2006 and till today of 2011, it's still selling. Although the 9th generation is launched in US and other market, but I heard it will not be launch in Malaysia this year, due to the Tsunami matters.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Plan to Upgrade My Wife's Car - Part 2

I've been always a car enthusiast, and although Malaysia tax makes any car barely affordable by other countries standard, but I still can't help falling in love with it. It's a beauty and marvel of human's engineering. Remember a story that in stone age, people got killed by the lion, while some warrior manage to kill a lion after having a spear on hand. Now with guns, lion are no match to human, but not because of the brute power of the individual. Only because of the intelligence of human being in developing the tools and that make us the supreme species in the world. I felt the same for cars, another tool that makes thing impossible possible.

Following up with my earlier post, we only have 1 car shortlisted, which is the Suzuki SX4. With our improving financial stand, I propose to my wife for a stretch in the budget and look at what is offered within the range of RM130,000. As there is where most of the much better B class car is priced, and just for a search, why not. Again, a few cars came into picture, such as the Toyota Altis, Honda Civic, Nissan Sylphy, Mazda 3, Mitsubishi Lancer, Ford Focus, Peugeot 407, even Volkswagen Polo. Tight cabin car such as Mazda 3 and Volkswagen Polo is rejected. Bad depreciation car such as Ford Focus and Peugeot 407 is rejected as well. Mitsubishi Lancer is one of the victim from Proton, and leaving us with only Altis, Civic and Sylphy.

Let's take a closer look of these cars:

Toyota Altis 1.8E (RM112,990)
140bhp and 177Nm coupled with CVT-7speed, MacPherson Strut + Torsion Beam, Ventilated Disc + Solid Disc, Foldable rear seats, Halogen, Amber Head Display, CD+MP3 with 4 speakers, Fabric Seats

Nissan Sylphy 2.0 CVTC Comfort (RM114,880)
133bhp and 195Nm coupled with X-CVT, Independent MaxPherson Strut + Torsion Beam, Ventilated Disc + Drums,

Honda Civic 1.8S-L (RM119,980)
140bhp and 174Nm coupled with Auto-5speed, MacPherson Strut + Independent Double Wishbone, Ventilated Disc + Solid Disc, Non Foldable rest seats, Halogen, Multiplex Meter, CD+MP3+iPod with 6 speakers, Leather Seats

When cars reached this range of pricing, it's already a very good car and as a consumer, we are always just looking for more features for the money that we are spending. First of all, Altis interior is dull crazy and it's so boring. We take lowest model of 1.8 for comparison and it fit all we need. The engine response is alright and as you can see from the numbers, all performance is almost the same and the comfort level from this car is very very good. Good thing about Toyota is everything is within expectactions. When you buy a Toyota, you already know what to expect and that's boring to me. Surprisingly the brakes & handling is quite good.

Moving on to Nissan Sylphy which my wife don't like as it's too big! But I do take a look anyway and it's a surprisingly good deal. The interior is more dull than Altis, imagine that! Cannot believe there are design that's more dull than Altis. The space inside is bigger Camry or Accord! Safety list is also good with a solid bar near radiator to protect from direct crash. The ride is comfortable and the handling is ok but the engine response is a little slow to my liking. Anyway my wife don't like it so it's out of our list.

Finally Honda Civic and there are few trimline choices but we delete the lowest end model as it does not have what we need. We tested the Civic right after the Altis and if you know about both cars, you will know our response. It's heaven and hell. Lucky that the Altis facelifted is alright in its exterior but still the 4-year-old Civic design still beat the Altis back to hell. On interior, I don't even want to mention as it's not comparable. Civic is famous for its 2-tier meter and deep dashboard design which is incredibly nice and challenge directly to those higher class cars. The engine response for 1.8 is good and it basically meet everything we need. Handling is much better than Altis but overall the main point is the Altis dull design turn this Civic to Angel.

Right after we tested the Civic, I made the deposit. Somehow once you hit this price range, the Suzuki SX4 is no longer in the picture. For young couple like us, it's no brainer for Civic. The only concern is the model is already reaching its 4-year-old cycle where new Civic model is expecting to launch in 2011. Anyway it's too good to resist and we need the car as well. So we don't bother to wait for the new model. A word of advice is that if you don't have the budget, don't ever compare to those higher class car.

Honda Civic is always my wife's dream car and I want her to live her dream as well but importantly, I need a better car to protect her and the family when we are travelling. We spent more and more of our time on the road, and I'm not risking it as long as I'm afford to do so.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Plan to Upgrade My Wife's Car - Part 1

It's been a very busy year for me and that's for a good reason! =)

I've hundred of posts to share but time is never enough for me. Since I started my blog, my life improve substantially and I'm not sure if it's purely good economic drive of the country or I'm lucky or I'm dedicated to live my life fullest in committing to blogging. Either way, never regret I started it and I'm writing as long as I'm able.

Sharing my life this time that after a good six years of service from my wife's first car, the Perodua Myvi, I decided to change out her car and give her a good life for standing beside me all these whiles. With our financial stand, we draw out a budget of RM100,000 for her next car and we started hunting. Criteria is simple of following:

1. Good usable space in sedan body as transporter for our family.
2. Priority on safety system and good crash protection.
3. Good subsale value with minimum depreciation.
4. Problem free as it's for my wife =)

There are lots of choice for that budget range, and after a shortlisting arrangement, I summarised my findings below:

Honda City 1.5E - RM87,982.50 or Toyota Vios 1.5E - RM87,300.00
I group both of these here because it's actually the same car with 118/108bhp and 145/141Nm. The engine response is alright and there is no lagging. Power is sufficient but my favourite features in City of CVT, iDSL engine and Ultra Seats in the older version is all gone. The boot space is crazy big but interior space is not very good. For future expanding family, it's not that suitable, so we look for next ride.

Naza Forte 2.0SX - RM95,120.10
Hitting the town like storm, super value of Forte 2.0SX with 154bhp and 194Nm. A4 paper also cannot fill its feature list and it's incredible for value. The ride is comfortable but 1.6 is pathetic in power. 2.0 is the only way and the new 6-speed sweeten the deal. However, we are worry on the subsale value as all Korean cars sustain heavy depreciation last time, we never know, better be safe than sorry so we look on.

Chevrolet Cruze 1.8 - RM98,767.60
Good value but unfamous car in the soil of Malaysia. It comes with 140bhp and 176Nm. The ride is good, handsome looking as well. But you will seldom see it on the road, because it's not famous, meaning bad subsale value as well. Next.

Ford Fiesta 1.6 Hatchback Sport - RM80,598.50
Hot Hatch and although it doesnt fulfill our requirement of sedan, we still test drive the small car comes with 118bhp and 152Nm. Its mated to dual clutch gearbox and the transmission is seamless! Ride is good with good power and easily reach 160kmh in our test ride. However, the hatchback is really small! Much smaller than City, so it's out, especially the boot space is pathetic. Test car quality built is also disappointing.

Peugeot 308VTi 1.6 - RM97,156.50
A good premium hatch with 120bhp and 160Nm but the power is not as good. Body is heavy and but interior is spacious. Problem is hatchback and Peugeot is not famous for its reliability. As long as it's continental, electrical problem is unavoidable, so we got to pass on this one. Not to mention small boot space. If I'm interested, then I will only consider the turbo version, but it's out of budget.

Proton Inspira 2.0 Premium - RM89,397.10
Its a value for money for sure and at that price, the power is 148bhp and 197Nm. Same quality as the much more expensive sibling, the Lancer, it's a no brainer. Only problem, it's local brand. A friend once said, you buy the car to show off, the brand defeat the whole purpose! I hate to agree, but it's true most of the times. Spending so much on a car, you would want people to recognise it. Main turn off is my wife got enough of local brand, so not even a consideration for her. If you looking for maximum bang for your money, this is your only choice, no need to think further. A big discount of the incredible quality of model, but don't wait later. Heard they will changeout the parts to local source, bad.

Honda Insight Hybrid 1.3 - RM95,320.80
A premium model of City, same platform, same space and eco friendly. I love the idea but the space is a big turn off, it's just a premium model of City with Cruise Control and etc installed. Somemore I'm worried on the battery life, worried on the subsale value as well, as hybrid is new to Malaysia market. With the battery replacement in closing up to RM5,000 after 4-5 years, the cost savings in petrol does not justify the price actually. The air-condition that turn off at traffic light is stupid, yea you can overwrite it, but it's stupid thing to do.

Suzuki SX4 Sport Crossover - RM89,988.00
A hidden gem in my opinion, 101bhp and 140Nm. The ride is high as you can expect in crossover, and it has a very good usable space within. Problem is boot space is not as big but usable still. Rear seats are foldable and it functions like ultraseats in old City. Value for money and it's my choice for current time, as no other come close to it. Power is ok with comfortable ride. Problem might be subsale value later, but swift is bringing the brand up, shouldnt be a problem.

There are lots of choice, but majority couldn't even fulfill my basic requirements. Don't mistaken me, all the cars above are fabulous cars and just look at the volume sold, I'm sure all buyers are educated in choosing the right cars for their family. Just that it doesn't fit my family needs, really that stringent or I'm just picky?

My shortlisted car is only Suzuki SX4 Sport Crossover as I exhausted my list in the budget of RM100,000. What am I going to do? Stay tuned for part 2.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

K3K Benta Kaya @ Kuchai Lama

Kopitiam, an usual spot for local to have a quick bite to fill the hunger, or a good time to meet up with some good friends for a good talk. Since the modernisation of Kopitiam concept lead by Old Town, you will find new Kopitiam all around the corner in KL. This particular new Kopitiam caught my eyes and I thought it's a western cuisine outlet, as the name K3K is a little funny. I'm usually conservative in choosing which restaurant to try out, as there are lots of disappointment out there I've encountered. Paying the money but still torturing my stomach is not something I look forward to.

However, we cleared almost all the Kopitiam in Kuchai Lama area, so we decided to give K3K a try. K3K means Kwai Sam Kei, translated from mandarin, but it's clearly mentioned the shop is originated from Kuala Lipis, Pahang since 1955. It's all marketing gimmick, I think. Anyone from Kuala Lipis mind confirming on that?

Now the name and logo is pathetic on K3K as it's not catchy and will not attract people. But once you step into the restaurant, the kopitiam has a very nice setting and environment, and the menu is also nicely done up. I always love beautiful menu, because that's how people over-order normally =)

The shop front of the K3K Benta Kaya and the usual full road side parking in Kuchai Lama area. I normally hate to eat in a congested area, therefore I only visit Kuchai Lama on occassional basis. Let's go to food.

Friday, June 3, 2011

IA Ulu Yam Run

Set the alarm to 6.15am and doze off. Alarm rings next morning, drag the body out of bed and pick up the car key. The day still dark and with eyes half close, start the engine and drive to Batu Caves to meet up in empty stomach. On the way, will tend to rev the bella a little to test the engine and suspension if it's ready for a good run. That's a typical car enthusiast like me will do when there is a run arranged.

We went for Ulu Yam run last weekend and a good run once in a while is always great to remind myself of the purpose of life. Enjoyment in driving an Alfa Romeo and feeling its engine roar and incredible handling in the middle of the corner is an experience I will never forget. It's my 4th run in Ulu Yam since my possession of the italian beast and I hope I will be able to continue doing it as long as I'm able to.

Beautiful Fiat Coupe leading the pack. The italian flag that's sculptured along the bodyline is killing me.

As you can see, we are running into a little late with the sun rising up already when we leave. It's a small group and good that there are other drivers joining us. I counted 8 cars that day and we have x2 Fiat Coupes, x1 Alfa 147, x1 Alfa 156, x2 Mini Cooper S, x1 Volkswagen Passat and x1 Mitsubishi Lancer. It doesn't matter where they come from or what car they are driving, but once we got together, it's natural.

For those that don't know the Ulu Yam route, here is a little map for your reference.

The route is measured 44.7km from the foothill of Ulu Yam and ended the run in Awana Cable Car Cafe. For an usual start of 7.00am to avoid traffic, we will be usually be home by 9.30am ~ 10.00am. For those late sleepers, your family wouldn't even know that you are away! That's great.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Dragon One @ Ipoh

There are these Shanghainese restaurants sprouting all around KL over the last 2 years and everyone know how Shanghai Dumpling taste like. The same is happening in Ipoh and my mum brought me over to try out this Ipoh very own Shanghainese restaurant named Dragon One. Yea, the name is a little of copy cat to i-Dragon but that's just the English name. Their chinese name is more meaningful, and it's definitely creative.

Since the opening of this restaurant, it has been drawing crowds and my parents are part of the group that love their food very much. Let's see how they fare agaisnt the giant player in KL.

Dragon One opened its restaurant right in the middle of the famous De Garden in Ipoh, and that's the hottest place in Ipoh as when I'm writing. If you are looking for Korean food, Pappa Rich, Tutti Fruitti, Japanese food, and etc, it's all here. It's one of the famous hangout place for Ipoh people day and night.

Back to the restaurant, the entrance is facing the main parking area of De Garden and as you can see, it's targetted to local folks. Very heavy chinese styled and decorated, however, it's not that important as we are more concern about the food quality.